Hackers Score a Goal with World Cup Scams

Last Thursday, the world jumped into the World Cup—the premier celebration of soccer (or football, depending on where you call home). It’s an exciting time for sports fans, but it’s also a perfect time for criminals to peek into the pockets, both virtual and otherwise, of vulnerable spectators.

Large sporting events like the Olympics, the Super Bowl and, of course, the World Cup, tend to draw a lot of money for security. But most of that money is spent beefing up the physical security in and around the games. Some sporting events, such as the Olympics, try to protect visitors from both political and financial attacks, but there’s little event organizers can do when strangers to a new country do what they do best—wander.

And it’s that wandering that hackers hope for. A destination sporting event can easily be ruined when travelers connect to a malicious network at a nearby pub or coffee shop, access a compromised automated teller machine (ATM), or try to take advantage of fantastic online deals for an event—only to find out it was a scam. And be careful performing an online search for Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi—two of the most popular soccer players in the world. They top our list of the riskiest soccer/football players on the web, meaning that their names are commonly used by hackers to draw fans to malicious websites.

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For tourists and sports travelers, especially those currently at the World Cup, the burden of digital security at large events falls on you, the visitor.

So what can you do to stay protected when you attend or attempt to live stream the World Cup? Well you’ve got a few options:

  • Be leery of “free.” When you see links, emails, or online ads offering free game highlights, free streaming bundles, and free athlete-tracking software, you could be signing up for free malware. Hackers turn to this tried and true method to trick their victims into downloading malicious software onto their computers. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. McAfee® SiteAdvisor®, which comes with McAfee LiveSafe™ service (or can be downloaded for free here) provides a warning message if you navigate to a risky site. It also shows site rating icons in your computer’s browser search results to indicate if a link is safe to click.
  • Avoid logging into sensitive websites over public Wi-Fi. Avoid using public Wi-Fi both at home and abroad, as it’s typically insecure. If you must use public Wi-Fi, avoid logging into any sensitive accounts such as your bank. You should also avoid conducting any online transactions where your credit card information must be entered. Hackers may be monitoring networks in an effort to snatch your credentials out of the air.
  • Protect your devices with comprehensive security software. The best way to protect yourself in any location is to use a security program that’s built to protect you. With McAfee LiveSafe™ service, you will be alerted when you receive a suspicious email or click on a malicious link. On Android devices, it will also alert you if you try to join an unsafe network. Consider it the Swiss Army Knife of comprehensive security—one that will make it through the security line at the airport.

And of course, stay on top of the latest consumer threats by following @McAfeeConsumer on Twitter and liking us on Facebook.

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